Wednesday, May 17, 2006

copy of comment on comment is free

Copy of post as a comment on Emily Bell's comment on "Comment is Free"

I have copied it here as the layout on the Guardian site looks horrible and the link to OhmyNews is not working. In many ways the 'Talk' site is still much better. The people who start a topic tend to stay with it. The comment site is still pretty much a dump from a print format. There is very little care taken in the design about how the public contributions are displayed.



good to see you do read the comments and reply. I have wondered if some people understand what a blog is. I don't think there is anything like a 'closed topic'. This seems as good a place as any to continue a conversation about 'We Media'. The striking thing about your views on citizen journalism is that you don't like the word. "horrible term - anyone who has a better suggestion wins a prize" Who is this 'we' then. Most of what turns up on a Monday on the Media pages seems to be written for journalists assuming they are mostly not working online. At least by saying that citizen journalism is a horrible term you are implying that something like citizen journalism actually exists. Earlier this year the Guardian has stated as a new year prediction that citizen journalism is a hype bubble about to burst and that it is like the beast of Bodmin Moor, much talked about but rarely sighted.

Is it the word 'citizen' that is a problem? In the UK we are British subjects of course. If we do get asked to vote we turn to Polly Toynbee to advise us what to do. Sorry I am going off topic. In my opinion the word 'citizen journalism' is best thought of as a Korean word. OK it is in English but it is a translation used by OhmyNews. 'Ubiquitous' is another word that has been revived in Korea and is now spreading.

I do send in reports for the international version of OhmyNews published in English. People like me are called 'citizen reporters'. The editors / fact checkers are professionals. My take is that the 'citizen journalism' is the collective process. The point is that the citizen reporter has a 'voice'. Some editorial judgement is allowed in how the original story is written. As it happens my concerns overlap fairly well with most of what appears on the OhmyNews site. This sort of approach has some limits but presumably there could be other sites with different values. Maybe that is where the word 'citizen' comes in with ideas from France and the USA.

There is less voice in 'witness contributions' which may be why the recently announced award show seems to have taken a narrow and mistaken view of what it is claiming to judge. Yes, I really do think that the UK professional journalists are taking a divided approach, to misrepresent citizen journalism in reporting it and to adapt the techniques into their own operations.

I don't think that citizen reporters have to be amateur or uninformed. They can write as and when something is worth reporting. South Korea has had broadband for a while now so I find the context is helpful in writing about the social consequences of technology. I also write in blogs and for websites but these are not picked up by Google News.

OhmyNews recently published my report about the London Bookfair. As far as I know the Guardian has not updated a report on this story since the Bookseller section in the back of the Saturday Review last week. As this was based on the Bookseller copy from Thursday it misses out the key events from Friday. These are sensational developments in the normally calm world of books. Words like 'backtracking' and 'doubledealing' could be used. DJTaylor is puzzled (today page 30) why some people get their info online rather than just from print. Maybe there will be more in the Guardian before Saturday on the story around bookfairs. And somewhere something a bit more positive about citizen journalism might turn up as well.

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